Karen Marie Garrett's sensational fourth
It's About the
was released in January 2007 as a
follow-up to the critically acclaimed
Both albums were produced by the
legendary Will Ackerman, founder of
Windham Hill Records. As well as winning
a coveted Piano-Heaven Gold Award,
Karen's album was awarded the
Life-style Music Awards "Best
Instrumental Piano Album,
2007". Currently busy working on her
next album- her fifth CD- Karen kindly
took time out to answer some questions
relating to her work.
Enjoy the interview...
Congratulations on your new CD! I'm really enjoying
it. As much as I loved (and still do), Allure of
Sanctuary, It's About the Rose appears to
be more daring and original. You seem to really get
your creative juices flowing, and experiment with
different styles- to great effect! To me, Allure
of Sanctuary was a Ďsafeí album, but on It's
About the Rose, you're branching out with new
ideas, exploring different styles, taking a few
risks, yet still managing to retain the melodic
charm and beauty of your previous CD- agreed?
Stephen. Agreed; with the new project I wanted to
connect with listeners at various emotional levels
and explore that artistically without consideration
of genre. It was risky, intriguing, revealing and I
loved it... one of the most creative periods of my
intrigued by the recurring "rose" theme running
through the CD. From where did this idea come?
The first track
Itís About the Rose in the Vase on the Table was
titled while writing the music, but the album title
and several song titles continued to elude me
throughout the yearlong project. It was curious to
me, that each piece appeared one after another
during this period, seeming somewhat connected and
yet I was unable to define the connection with
words. I took a walk one afternoon to enjoy a
friendís garden and noticed a beautiful climbing
rose embracing a wooden trellis with its rose stems
weaving in and out of the trellis. The visual image
reminded me of the way music seems to move through
One of my
favourite tracks is Moon Night. To me, this
is one of the most upbeat pieces on the album and
works extremely well. It's quite a departure from
anything on Allure of Sanctuary! How did this
piece come about?
At the coast one evening, I
observed an ocean performance! There was so much
movement and energy in the water it seemed to be
dancing. And the moon so bright, the rays appeared
as stage lights. I snapped a photo [right] and went
to the piano!
previous album, Allure of Sanctuary seems to
have been a huge success. Congratulations! You must
be happy with the public's response to your album...
Thank you! Iím
delighted with the response to Allure of
Sanctuary. The comments from listeners
have been amazing! Touching people
emotionally with my music is my ultimate
goal, and it is so rewarding to hear from
I love the
entire CD, but there's something extra
special about Tip-Toe Dancer. It's
beautiful! Would it be fair to say this is
the track that has generated the most
response? As you were putting the CD
together, did you think "this will be the
Stephen. Tip-Toe Dancer has generated
the most response so far. As you know, the
inspiration came from a story Kathryn, a
friend of many years, shared with me about
her childhood. During gatherings for family
and friends, she would ĎTip-Toe Danceí
pretending to be a ballerina to entertain
them. I hoped it would be a special song for
listeners, and I'm delighted with the
Allure of Sanctuary- it's
title. In the CD's notes you say "The
Sanctuary" is a retreat for artists in
Washington. I'm assuming your addition of
"Allure" means you found it an inspirational
place in terms of creating music?
Yes, I wrote
the composition Allure of Sanctuary
during a stay at ďThe SanctuaryĒ, a visual
and performing artists' retreat founded by
Cynthia Hayward. It is a beautiful and
secluded place where I felt liberated....
hence the title.
what age did
you start to play the piano? Was piano
playing part of your family life as a child?
Did you create your own compositions?
purchased a used upright piano so I could
begin lessons at five years old. Mother
loved piano, and greatly influenced my
studies. She played as a child, but was
reluctant to play in front of us. My father
and brother did not play piano; they were
deeply involved in sports. And honestly,
other family members did not have much of an
opportunity to use the piano- it was seldom
unoccupied by me.... I loved it! The
constant piano music eventually became a
sound issue to my father and brother. They
tired of listening to their TV sports
programmes through earphones. So the piano
and I were moved to a large family room on
the other side of the home. The room was
redesigned as a studio apartment, and I was
in heaven now able to practice at any hour
without disturbing anyone. I did not begin
composing until much later.
Your four CDs
to date seem to be classically influenced-
your first two Pensare and
Classical Serenity being collections of
pieces from the likes of Bach and Sanucci,
Allure of Sanctuary containing pieces
by Erik Satie and It's About the Rose
includes a piece with reference to Beethoven
and Chopin. Are you classically trained? Do
you play any other instruments?
I'm Classically trained, and love Classical
music. I do not play other instruments at
enjoy the work
of other pianists in the genre? When you
have the time, to what do you enjoy
enjoy other pianists' works and genres of
music as well (instrumental and vocal). I do
not have much time to listen to music, but
when I do, I enjoy most of all well
performed written music.
feel indebted to your producer, Will
Ackerman. Securing his services is quite a
coup! How did the relationship come about?
him on two
occasions if he would listen to my
recordings and he said yes! I have always
admired Will and his great works; he is a
truly brilliant and exceptional man of our
time. I'm honoured to be working with him.
About the Rose released, what are your
immediate plans for the future?
I look forward to sharing the music
of both albums Allure of
Sanctuary and Itís About the
Rose in performance. Iím
currently seeking concert venues and
supporters. I canít wait to meet and
interact with the fans.
when the opportunity is presented,
Iíd love to write and record another
wish you well with your plans!
Finally, I can't end this interview without
asking you about your Furry Friends! I take
it you're a fan of dogs...
Thank you, Stephen!
The Furry Friends / Children subject has
turned into so much fun. The [sleeve notes
for the] song Simple Things on the
Allure of Sanctuary CD mentioned furry
children as an inspiration because they add
so much fun and love to our lives. Listeners
began to write and send pictures about their
furry friends, so we started a photo album
on my website,
It's true I am especially fond of dogs, and
I can't imagine life without a dog!
a beautiful three year old black labrador is
in charge of the house!
Thank you to
Karen for the Interview.
to check out reviews of Karen's CDs
Allure of Sanctuary
It's About the Rose.
They're terrific albums, and well worth
Sanctuary and It's About the Rose are available from
Amazon and CDBaby, together with other music
retailers. They're also available from Karen's
Karen and Will courtesy of Norbert von der Groeben
of Palo Alto Weekly.